I was curious to see how the local press in central Massachusetts would come down after Smith & Wesson announced it was moving its headquarters and hundreds of jobs to Tennessee over concerns that a proposed state law would block it from manufacturing most modern sporting rifles at its current facility. Given the anti-gun attitudes of most of media outlets in the state, I figured that the local paper would shrug off the relocation in the name of “common sense gun safety,” but I was pleasantly surprised by the editors of the Springfield Republican, who clearly aren’t happy about the anti-gun push that led to Smith & Wesson’s re-location.
State Rep. Bud L. Williams has been a Springfield City Council member and a state legislator, and for a time, he did both at once.
That apparently didn’t satisfy Williams, who took on the role of national lawmaker, a job for which he has not been elected. Along with other state legislators claiming a bigger stage than is theirs, they proposed a bill that would ban Smith & Wesson from making assault-style weapons and certain handguns in Massachusetts — causing the gun manufacturer to announce it would move its headquarters and 550 of 1,550 jobs to Tennessee, after 169 years in this state.
This legislative blunder is not about whether assault-style weapons or certain handguns are justified or not. It is about representing the people of the district that elected you. In this case, 550 jobs will be lost and those families face uncertain and even frightening futures, with many forced to consider pulling up lifelong Springfield roots and moving to Tennessee or elsewhere.
In April, bill supporters said they did not think the legislation would cause Smith & Wesson to leave. That was telling, for it was a recognition the possibility existed. It was also a gamble with hundreds of jobs, and one that was lost.
The editors go on to say that whether you like it or not, the guns that Smith & Wesson manufactures are perfectly legal, and the jobs that are being lost are “quality” ones; the type that cities like Springfield can’t really afford to lose just so a politician can try to score some points with his base.
Next time Williams or any other legislator swings from the hip, they should consider whether their topic is one for which they were elected, and what ramifications may result. Some thoughtful, long-term risk assessment means good legislation and it was missing here. Whether this legislation passes or not, nothing is gained because guns will be made elsewhere, but we do know what is being lost.
Yep. Hundreds of jobs, and tens of millions of dollars in tax revenue. As the editors of the Republican point out, Williams’ anti-gun legislation won’t prevent a single firearm from being made. But even before a single vote has been cast on the proposal, it’s already cost the city of Springfield dearly. Beyond the economic hit the city will take once Smith & Wesson’s move is complete, the proposal has upended the lives of hundreds of residents who must now look for a new job or figure out if they can make the move to Tennessee along with their employer. That might not matter to the anti-gun politicians and activists in the state, but the Republican‘s editors clearly understand the harm that comes when a bad idea leads to hundreds of good jobs disappearing across the state line.